Entries in Smithsonian (4)


Evidence Discovered of Cannibalism at Jamestown Colony

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Colonists at the oldest settlement in America, Jamestown, may have resorted to cannibalism during the winter of 1609, archaeologists said Wednesday.

Archaeologists had previously discovered evidence that settlers had resorted to eating livestock during that winter, known as the "starving time" due to drought and famine.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, a new discovery, the dismembered remains of a 14-year-old English girl, mark the first hard evidence that desperate times led settlers to resort to cannibalism.

The colony was founded with 104 settlers in 1607, and by 1609 more than half of the population had succumbed to drought, disease or hostile relations with Native Americans, according to Smithsonian Magazine.

The remains were found in the summer of 2012, amidst a deposit that also contained the bones of butchered animals. According to lead archaeologist William Kelso, livestock were only butchered "in times of extreme hunger."

Further excavation revealed human teeth and a partial human skull. Analysis of the bones pointed to dismemberment and cannibalization.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, many of the details of the case remain uncertain, including whether the girl was murdered or died of natural causes. It is also unknown whether the cannibalism was the action of one person or multiple.

An exhibition dedicated to the discovery will open at the Historic Jamestown site on Friday, according to USA Today.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


First Lady Hosts Nation's Top Innovators at White House

Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy(WASHINGTON) -- First Lady Michelle Obama paid tribute to some of the nation’s top innovators at the White House Friday. Winners of the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards are honored annually by the Smithsonian as creative thinkers in disciplines the organization believes are critical in shaping humanistic achievements.
At a luncheon in the White House’s East Room, the first lady said it was important to put faces on the winners for their contributions to society.
“All of them have done something really good for our country and our world.  From the clothes we wear to the technologies we use to the public spaces we enjoy, their work affects just about every aspect of our lives,” she said.
The sentiment was echoed by Dr. Wayne Clough, secretary of the Smithsonian.
“We see design around us every day, in everything small and large, from the paper clip to the shuttle Discovery,” he said.  "The awards demonstrate and celebrate how design affects the quality of our life, the community, our education, and yes, our environment.”
This year’s 11 winners range in fields from biology to fashion design, and everything in between. They include names such as Scott Wilson, whose firm collaborated on the design for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 gaming platform and the iPod Nano. Also on the list: Tim Prestero, whose organization Design that Matters focuses on solutions for developing countries. One innovation they sprung: A neonatal care unit created out of spare car parts.
Richard Saul Wurman received a lifetime achievement award during the event. Wurman is the creator of the popular “TED Talks” conferences, yearly non-profit events where the world’s top thinkers and doers share their ideas.
Friday’s event was preceded by an education program for Washington high school students. The youths of the “design fair,” selected for their own unique projects, also met the winners one-on-one.
Obama said she hoped the event would inspire those young people to keep at it.
“What you guys have to understand is that these honorees weren’t born brilliant designers,” she said.  "They became brilliant designers because they worked hard.  They’re here today because they had a dream, and they put in long, hard, exhausting work -- all of that [is what] it takes to follow that dream.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Smithsonian Opening ‘Made in America’ Store This Week

Dynamic Graphics/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- This spring, ABC News kicked off its “Made in America” series with a startling report revealing that it’s almost impossible to buy an American-made souvenir at some of the nation’s highest-profile museums, including those in Washington operated by the Smithsonian Institution.

As part of that series, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., promised to press the Smithsonian to sell American-made products.

This week, he’s getting results: the Smithsonian is opening a new gift shop at the National Museum of American History that will feature exclusively American-made products.

“They are making some progress,” Sanders told ABC’s Top Line webcast Tuesday. “I was very upset in visiting the Smithsonian, and I love the Smithsonians -- they're great museums. Hope everybody visits them. But their gift shops were selling in very strong number products made in China and other countries.

“They are making some progress in getting American vendors to start selling to the Smithsonian. We've got a lot more work ahead of us, but I think we are making progress.”

World News will be with Sanders for the opening of the new “Price of Freedom” gift store Wednesday, as the “Made in America” series continues.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Smithsonian Says Giant Panda Mei Xiang May Be Pregnant

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Smithsonian's National Zoological Park announced Wednesday that the female giant panda Mei Xiang is exhibiting signs that she may be pregnant again.

In a press release, the Smithsonian announced the giant panda's urine showed higher levels of progesterone, an indication that she may be carrying a cub.  Mei Xiang was inseminated with sperm from her mate Tian Tian in January.

"We have now entered a window of 40 to 50 days which will dictate whether a cub will be born.  We have the nursery ready," said Brandie Smith, senior curator at the National Zoo.

The zoo has a webcam following Mei Xiang so everyone can observe the potentially pregnant panda.

Mei Xiang gave birth to her only cub, Tai Shan, in 2005.  Before Tia Shan was born, the National Zoo had tried for three decades with another pair of giant pandas to raise cubs in captivity.  They had five cubs but none lived for more than a few days.

Smith explains that it's very difficult for giant pandas to get pregnant.  Females only ovulate once a year and are fertile for a small window of two days a year.  Mei Xiang and Tian Tian are also a little bit romantically challenged.

"Sometimes they can't coordinate the appropriate parts," explains Smith.  That's why they have a team that oversees the artificial insemination.  Smith said this time all went extremely well.

With the exciting news of the higher hormone levels, Smith and her colleagues have started training Mei Xiang, reminding her what it's like to have a baby in captivity.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio